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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
a Blessed Independence Day
America Is, Indeed, A Nation Founded “Under God”...
Platt Liebau] 7/4/05
It is, sometimes,
both startling and valuable to be pulled up short. It happened
to me last week – when I heard a minister
insist that America had not, in fact, been founded on Judeo-Christian
polarized times, the mere notion of the existence of “Judeo-Christian
principles” is profoundly upsetting to those who carry
a largely imaginary mental image of a “religious right” frothing
at the mouth, ready to impose a form of Christian fundamentalism
on every American and desperately afraid – as H.L. Mencken
once described “American puritans” – that someone,
somewhere is having a good time. But truth cannot be denied – and
the truth is that Judeo-Christian principles are as inextricably
intertwined with American history and politics as the flag is
with the Fourth of July.
of this simple truth shouldn’t be confused
with an arrogant sense that – because the overwhelming
majority of delegates to the Constitutional convention were committed
Christians – those of the Christian faith somehow occupy
(or should occupy) a uniquely privileged position in American
society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor are specific
Biblical doctrines explicitly invoked or inserted into the text
of the Declaration or the Constitution.
the influence of Judeo-Christian thought permeates all of America’s founding documents. The concepts of God-given
rights, equality of all people before the law, the sinfulness
of mankind (and even the idea of freedom of conscience itself!) – reflect
the intellectual underpinnings of traditional Judeo-Christian
belief. And these convictions are not universal religious values – after
all, certain strands of Islamic belief hold women to be spiritually
and legally inferior to men; under traditional Hindu doctrine,
the lowest caste – the “untouchables,” – are
diversity is part of America’s glorious melting
pot, and there are, without doubt, many roads to God. Adherents
of all faiths – or no faith at all – have found a
welcome in the United States, as it should be. But the traditional
(and proper) American embrace of religious pluralism doesn’t
mean that all faiths informed the formation of the American form
And it would
certainly be a mistake to believe that no religious influence
(or a deist
belief in a disengaged, indifferent God)
is reflected in America’s founding documents. Moreover,
it would be dangerous.
Here’s why. As America’s great leaders from George
Washington to Ronald Reagan have pointed out, it’s folly
to believe that a republic can truly thrive in the absence of
a moral and religious people. Religious faith of any stripe (so
long as it is uncorrupted by unreasoning hatred) creates in its
believers a sense of moral obligation that strengthens the quality
of public life.
Doubtless many of those who deny the religious underpinning of
America’s founding ((like the minister I spoke with last
week) do so out of an admirable desire to ensure that all members
of American society feel equally welcome and are equally valued.
They are, indeed – in itself a beautiful reflection of
America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
So amid all
our Independence Day celebrations, let’s take
a moment to give thanks for the spiritual heritage that has made
room for so many, and blessed us with such freedom. tOR
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and
theOneRepublic / CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com